Of all of the troublesome aspects of modernism that has found itself within the Church is the aspect of the dismissal of the devil, the demonic, and evil. It is the flip side of the coin to the denigration of the transcendent that has become the norm in most Catholic liturgies as practiced, in our education systems, and in the waning of the devotional life. To downplay the transcendent is to downplay both the godly and the demonic and tame them into merely human overreactions to physical or mental phenomenon. As our liturgies became people-focused, so the demonic was regulated to scary movies and parlor games. The devil has been more than pleased for such a development.
I have been reading Fr. Gabrielle Amorth's " An Exorcist Tells His Story." Towards the end of the book he bemoans the dismissal of the demonic on behalf of the clergy and the unwillingness to see the demonic as a clear and present danger to the flock. Granted, there are many psychological disorders that were once treated as demonic possession, but we have now gone to the opposite extreme where everything is a psychological disorder and not demonic. Even in our blessings, exorcisms were dropped. The use of blessed salt and blessed oil got dropped. Fr. Amorth remarks in his book how much more effective Confession and Eucharist are. But we have seen sharp declines in both. It is as if we have taken all of our ramparts and defenses and leveled them to where the demonic is having free reign to trouble us.
I am not going to assign blame for how we got here. It is counter-productive. It suffices to say we are here now.
What do we do? We rebuild our defenses! Inasmuch as we need to refocus Mass on the transcendent do we need to acknowledge and actively thwart the demonic. Simply dismissing the existance of the demonic will not dimiss the demonic; in fact it will only encourage the demonic. Here is what I purpose that can be done now.
1) Shut off the spigot! The devil cannot make us do anything. He can tempt. He can influence. That's it. We need to look at the influences we allow into our lives. First, we expell anything of the occult from our lives and homes. Oujia boards, tarot cards, and other things used to conjure spirits have no place in a Catholic home. The use of mediums, seances, and other people associated with the occult are not to be toyed with. These are the most obvious sources. However, take a good long look at what is being heard, watched, read, and played when it comes to TV, music, books, movies, and video games. What are you exposing yourself and your children to? What is being encouraged? What is being taught? The devil isn't going to coming at you looking like a horned beast but as a shining angel.
2) Get back to regular use of the sacraments! The sacramental life of the Church is there is assist us with God's grace to get in and stay in a state of grace. These are the ultimate ramparts and defenses against the influence of the demonic. Regular confession is necessary. Frequent reception of the Eucharist builds our defenses. Fr. Amorth remarks on the power of these two sacraments towards the fight against the demonic.
3) Develop a healthy devotional and prayer life! Pray the rosary. Develop spiritual reading. Pray. Ask for the saints' and the Blessed Mother's intercession in thwarting the devil. Who better to ask that those who succeeded in being victorious over Satan and his demons? Pray the Divine Office. Spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. See each and every one of these as defenses against the devil and his minions. It will help us be watchful, intentional, and aware.
4) Use sacramentals! I caution here with warning you NOT to treat sacramentals like talismans or good look charms. The use of sacramentals is to remind us of God's presence in our lives and to keep us focused on Him. The use of sacramentals in troubled times and fearful times is good as long as they are not being used as charms.
5)Make regular use of fasting and abstinence! Is it any wonder that the same time we dropped exorcisms we also wildly downplayed the use of fasting and abstinence? Both of these detach us from worldliness and are excellent weapons in the fight against the demonic. In Matthew 17:21 Jesus tells us some demons can only be fought through fasting and prayer. The selflessness of prayer, fasting, and abstinence works against the complete selfish nature on the demonic.
For many blessings I now use the Rituale Romanum specifically because exorcisms and prayers for the protection against evil are in those blessings. At the end of every Mass in my parishes, we pray the St. Michael the Archangel prayer. Blessed salt and holy water are always available at my parishes. I hand out St. Benedict medals like Christmas candy. If we are to set our eyes on Christ, we must be aware that what He fought against, we fight against. We do well to not dismiss the demonic, but to use the grace of God and the tools of the Church to be our protection and our defense against such powers.